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Green Hollow Square: A New Chapter?

Plan A:  Move Barry Building to the back of the property; build the new building (in hatch marks) around the periphery, creating  open space in the middle, with a fountain; parking goes underground.Things are starting to heat up with the project called “Green Hollow Square,†also known as “The Munger Project†or “The Barry Building†or “Where Duttons Used to Be.â€
Charlie Munger, billionaire developer, has just hired a noted preservationist architect, Leo Marmol, to explore the possibility of incorporating the existing Barry Building into the new project.
I have thought for some time that blending the new project in with the old building was the obvious compromise needed to garner more widespread support for the project.
But that assumes it really is the building some want to save; it’s not hard to imagine that, even if the developer Plan B:  Move Barry Building back and to the left of the property, “slanting† it at an angle.  All the other buildings (in hatch marks) on the property play off this “angular† approach.  Still plenty of open space; fountain in middle; parking goesagreed to save the Barry Building, opponents would still oppose the project because of traffic and the like.
The building, most agree, is no great shakes. At the recent annual meeting of Brentwood Homeowners Association, BHA president Robert Rene polled the crowd of maybe 400 and asked for a show of hands to indicate how many felt strongly that the building should be saved – and how many didn’t really care if the Barry Building got knocked down.
I estimate fully 70 percent of the raised hands indicated that saving the Barry Building was not important to most Brentwoodians. While this poll can’t be considered scientific, I’m guessing it’s fairly accurate.
Over the years, I’ve asked many people what it was about the Barry Building they liked so much. Interestingly, very few say they like the building itself; what they like is the courtyard in the middle of the building – and the memory of Dutton’s Bookstore.
Any new design should embrace the idea of a gathering place. And clearly one of the major tenants of a new development should be a bookstore.
A while back I gave some hand-drawn sketches to one of Charlie Munger’s representatives. Since it seems like the developer is now open to new ideas, I’ll share them with you, our readers.
In “Plan A,†I move the Barry Building to the back of the property and build a structure around a big plot of open land – a true gathering place.
In Plan B, I move the Barry Building back and to the left side, creating an unusual (and possibly more interesting) angular layout.
I don’t know if any of these ideas will catch on, but if you look at the current design being pushed, there’s really not much open space. I hope any new design will employ more of a “town square†approach.
I’m obviously no architect – forgive my sketches – but I do think I speak for most Brentwoodians when I say more open space in any new design would be highly welcomed. If the project is being described as a “gathering place,†then we need to give people space to actually gather.

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